Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Social Protection; Welfare; Latin America; Social Assistance; Welfare Generosity; Typology; Electoral Competition

Major Advisor

Lyle A. Scruggs

Associate Advisor

Matthew M. Singer

Associate Advisor

Veronica Herrera

Field of Study

Political science


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Social policies are about extending social rights and providing a safety net that allows citizens to have a minimum standard of living independently of market forces, and have become increasingly important for citizens as countries in the Global South have undertaken market reforms, faced economic crises, and experienced changing labor conditions towards increasingly informal and vulnerable work. This research project joins a growing body of work that investigates how countries in Latin America have differed in the development of adequate systems of social protection, with a focus on social assistance policies and the generosity of welfare entitlements. I argue that combining the traditional social security view of the welfare state with the emerging scholarship on social assistance provides a comprehensive view of welfare. Based on an original data collection and a cluster analysis I propose a new multidimensional typology of social policy regimes. The typology yields four types of social policy regimes: Inclusive, Compensatory, Restrictive and Exclusionary. I show that the first two regime types are associated with greater improvements in social welfare and human development outcomes regardless of their level of social expenditures. I explain the variation across the country cases based on a qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) of economic, social and political characteristics. I show that alternative configurations of factors produce social policy regimes of varying generosity. Where Left parties have been competitive since the return of democracy and consistently vied for middle class votes we find more generous social policy regimes.

Available for download on Wednesday, August 07, 2024